The seventh leg of my solo motorcycle tour across Europe brought me to Monaco, the second smallest country in the world. The day did not go according to plan.
The idea was to spend the morning exploring the city, then spend the afternoon in Nice. But I never made it to Nice. I spent all morning riding round in circles, hopelessly lost in Monaco’s ridiculous rabbit-warren of a road system. Even the sat-nav wasn’t much help, since half the roads are underground.
If I had to sum up Monaco (especially Monte Carlo) in one word, that word would be synthetic. It's quite a photogenic city in many ways, like an enormous glittering upper-class favela.
Apart from the novelty of being gridlocked amongst Lamborghinis and Maseratis, and brushing shoulders with alien-looking middle-aged women with pointy cheekbones and over-inflated lips, it shares the same historical pile-up of old upon new with some of my favourite parts of London... and yet without any of the character.
Despite its physical quirkiness, I found Monaco to be quite devoid of personality. For me, it sits somewhere on the authenticity spectrum between Dubai and Disney Land. That said, I'd still like to sample its casino nightlife the next time I'm down this way.
If you can find your way out of the pandemonium, it's definitely worth a trip up to the Dog's Head - a rocky outcrop that offers some amazing views over the entire city and the surrounding coastline. There are even parking bays there for campervans.